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Stroke Warning Signs

Signs & Symptoms To Know

Someone experiencing a stroke may have one or more of the following:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg - especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache

In the case that a sudden stroke occurs, the National Stroke Association recommends this quick reference guide for recognizing stroke:

Face: Ask the patient to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Do they have trouble talking? Are the words slurred?

Time: If you see any of these signs, call 911 immediately.


Risk Factors

The following risk factors can't be changed:

  • Age - older than 55
  • Heredity (Family History) and Race - African-Americans have a higher risk
  • Gender - men have a higher risk
  • Prior stroke, TIA, or heart attack

The following risk factors can be changed, treated, or controlled:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Cigarette Smoking
  • High Cholesterol
  • Carotid or Other Artery Disease
  • Other Heart Diseases
  • Atrial Fibrillation
  • Diet
  • Sickle Cell Disease
  • Physical Inactivity and Obesity

911 EMS Activation: Crucial To Getting the Help You Need

  • Multiple symptoms do not have to occur. Don't ignore signs of a stroke, even if they go away.
  • Check the time. When did the first warning sign or symptom begin? You, or the person accompanying you, will be asked this important question later. This is vital: if you are within 3 hours of when your symptoms begin, a clot busting drug can reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke.
  • If you have one or more stroke symptoms lasting more than a few minutes, immediately call 911 or the EMS so an ambulance can quickly be sent for you.
    Do not drive yourself.
  • If you're with someone who may be experiencing stroke symptoms, immediately call 911 or the EMS. Expect the person to resist going to the hospital. Don't take "no" for an answer because "time lost is brain lost".
  • When communicating with the EMS or the hospital, make sure to use the word "STROKE".